The Pivotal Use Of Multiple Narrators Within Wilkie Collins’s The Moonstone

1647 words - 7 pages

The narration within Wilkie Collins’s The Moonstone is not synonymous with the majority of the detective genre. The Moonstone is written in the epistolary form, and has more than one narrator. The use of multiple narratives within The Moonstone is a modern and innovative approach to detective fiction as a genre. It is very useful in order to uncover the events that only certain characters have witnessed. The narrators of The Moonstone write their accounts of events in the same way: by use of the first person narrative. There are some negative aspects associated with this type of narration. Despite Collins’s innovative multiple narrations approach to the novel, the narrators are filled with subjectivities and biases. Multiple narratives, despite including the subjectivities and biases associated with the first person point of view, is much needed in order to uncover events the characters have witnessed in order to solve the crime in The Moonstone.
The Moonstone opens up with the reason Collins uses multiple narrators:
“We have certain events to relate,” Mr. Franklin proceeded; “and we have certain persons concerned in those events who are capable of relating them. Staring from these plain facts, the idea is that we should all write the story of the Moonstone in turn—as far as our own personal experience extends, and no further” (12).
Blake’s statement puts forth the premise for the multiple narrators; where in each of their narrations have the opportunity to share the “plain facts... as far as [their] own personal experience stands, and no further,” (12) in order to get to the bottom of the mystery regarding the Moonstone. Despite the “plain facts” (12) that Franklin urges the narrators to use, the respective narrators, more so Gabriel Betteredge and Drusilla Clack, are filled with subjectivities and biases.
Subjectivities and biases in the epistolary first person narrative accounts, present in Gabriel Betteredge and Drusilla Clack’s respective narrations, are due to the fact that there is not one omniscient narrator. The lack of one all knowing narrator in The Moonstone encompasses the need for multiple narrators in order to convey certain events, crucial to the plot, that each individual character has “personal[ly] experience[d]” (12). Within the subjective and biased accounts of these narratives, there is an overall objective view of the events as they unfolded. Each narrator contributes vital information such as facts, settings, specific events, and important conversations that are mandatory for the novel to progress, the truth to be told, and the culprit discovered.
In the first narrative contributed by Gabriel Betteredge, the House-Steward, the reader is immediately confronted with Betteredge’s biases towards his employer: “Miss Adelaide; Miss Caroline; and Miss Julia—the last being the youngest and the best of the three sisters, in my opinion” (14). Julia “can’t do without Gabriel Betteredge,” (14) and being in Julia’s life since the...

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